Simon Beddows grows rare wild flower under HLS scheme

The weather is understandably the main topic of conversation at the moment, but I think the time has come to stop playing the whinging farmer.

Being a light land farm, we will be disproportionately hit by the drought. You know you are in trouble when the ear is coming out in the first week of May and the beans flower at ankle height.

On a brighter note, I took a punt on our HLS scheme application being successful back in the autumn and established one of the planned arable margins. The reasoning behind this was simple – to see if a single rare arable weed found on a field margin by Janet and Jerry Welsh, our retired amateur botanists, might actually produce a few more plants.

The plant is pheasant’s eye, an extremely rare wild flower found in only 21 locations nationwide. The largest single find was 300 plants several years ago. About half a dozen appeared in the autumn, two of which started to produce flowers. Last week, Janet and Jerry counted more than 1,000 flowering plants. I can’t tell you what a buzz it gives you when something like that happens.

My philosophy has always been to farm the centre of our fields as intensively as we can to maximise yields, while minimising inputs. However, the margins are where we farm for the environment so that future generations can appreciate some of nature’s wonders. Environmental schemes give us the opportunity to do this. Don’t think I’ve gone soft all of a sudden – we’re still a business that needs to make a profit so that we can invest in the future.

Finally, thanks to Paul Dunning from Tiede Engineering for sorting out a progressive braking system for our grain trailers. At last, no more broken noses and worn tyres when running with empty trailers back to the combine.

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